Skip to main content

What is actually a

Skin fungus?

A skin fungus, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea, is a common fungal infection of the skin caused by various types of fungi. The most common pathogens are dermatophytes, which include Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. These fungi feed on keratin, a protein found in skin, hair and nails. These can infect the outer layer of the skin.

Fungal skin infections can cause unpleasant symptoms and spread to other parts of the body or people. Transmission occurs through direct contact with infected areas of skin or through indirect contact via contaminated objects such as towels, clothing or floors.

About the symptoms
Patient mit Creme am Arm

More information

Important facts about skin fungus

Symptoms and consequences of a skin fungus

The symptoms of a fungal skin infection vary depending on the part of the body affected and the type of fungus, but may include the following signs:

  • Red, scaly patches on the skin.
  • Itching and skin irritation
  • Formation of blisters or pustules.
  • Cracks or flaking
  • Hair loss (in cases of scalp fungus).
  • Thickening and discoloration of the nails (nail fungus)

What forms of skin fungus are there?

The most common forms of skin fungus are: Tinea corporis (ringworm): This form occurs on the smooth skin of the body and causes round, red, scaly patches that spread outward and often heal in the center, making them appear ring-shaped. Tinea pedis (athlete's foot): Athlete's foot is an infection of the skin between the toes and on the soles of the feet. It can lead to redness, scaling, itching, burning and blistering. Tinea cruris (jock itch): This form affects the groin area and is often seen in men. It causes redness, itching and possibly painful rashes in the groin folds. Tinea capitis (scalp fungus): This infection affects the scalp and leads to hair loss, scaly skin and sometimes inflamed lesions. Tinea barbae (beard fungus): Beard fungus occurs in the beard area and on the face and can cause redness, dandruff and hair loss. Tinea manuum (hand fungus): This form affects the hands and can lead to redness, scaling and itching. Tinea unguium (nail fungus): Nail fungus affects the nails of the fingers and toes and leads to thickening, discoloration and fragility of the nails.

What causes skin fungus?

The causes of fungal skin infections are usually fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi thrive in moist and warm environments and can live on the skin without causing immediate symptoms. However, if certain conditions are met, they can multiply and cause an infection. The following causes can be the trigger for skin fungus.

Contact with infected persons or animals

Contact with contaminated surfaces

Moisture and sweat

Weakened immune system

Community facilities

How is skin fungus diagnosed?

An experienced doctor, usually a dermatologist or a general practitioner, can diagnose a skin fungus.

Medical history

Physical examinations

Wood light test with ultraviolet light

Mikroskop Icon

Swab or skin sample

Untersuchung der Haut mit Wood Lampe

What to do with fungal skin infections?

Haken Icon

Measures for fungal skin infections

Fungal skin infections are usually treated with antimycotics, which can be administered topically (applied to the skin) or orally (in the form of tablets). It is important to adhere to the entire prescribed treatment period to ensure that the fungus is completely eliminated and recurrence is prevented.

Haken Icon


To avoid fungal skin infections, it is advisable to maintain good hygiene, not to share personal items such as towels or razors and to avoid walking barefoot in public areas such as swimming pools or changing rooms.


Please note that all content provided regarding individual medical conditions, treatments, procedures, etc. is general information and may vary depending on the physician:in and individual case and initial situation.
For more detailed information, please always consult your doctor.

MSD Manual, By Denise M. Aaron , MD, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Sep 2021

Fungal infections of the skin, Andrea Lubliner, Brit Weirich (medical author, M.A. Multilingual Communication), Last update: 06.01.2022

S1 guideline onychomycosis 12/05/2022

Guidelines of the German Dermatological Society and the German-speaking Mycological Society, Tinea of the free skin, 10/2008